Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Great Stuff!!

Christopher Titus, the edgy comedian who had a series on Fox for three years called "Titus", contacted me a few months back about a script he was shopping around called "Special Unit". It's a cutting edge comedy about a detective who screws up and gets put in charge of a group of disabled detectives who have sued on behalf of the "fairness and disabilities Act" to become active members of the police department.

There is a paraplegic veteran just back from the Middle East, a guy with cerebral palsy, a guy with autism, and a woman who is a little person. Christopher Titus plays an Archie Bunker type who uses every politically incorrect term and constantly bemoans the fact that he's in this position. The detectives talk like we disabled people talk when in a group together. We call each other crip and gimp, and every other derogatory euphemism you can imagine. That all comes out in "Special Unit". The comedy is very cutting edge. It is right of my alley, I have always used comedy as a way of dealing with the situation that I've been dealt. I also commonly use comedy to make people feel more comfortable around me. Once I get people laughing their tension about making sure they don't "do the wrong thing " disappears. God, I hate this politically correct wave that has been sweeping over the country over the last twenty or so years!

He asked me to look over the script to insure that the humor is edgy, maybe a little over the edge, but will not offend the majority of disabled people. He also wanted me to make sure it is laugh out loud funny. It is both.

Comedy Central has agreed to produce the pilot episode which will begin production in early January. Christopher asked me to be technical advisor on this first episode. Hooyah! If the heavens open up and Comedy Central agrees to make it a series, I will be a writer on the show. Double hooyah! There are many opportunities for performers with disabilities down the road. Whether or not I work on the show as an actor depends upon whether or not a role comes up for me.

I can't express to you how positive the feedback is from the overwhelming majority of performers with disabilities I know who have read the script. It is not only extremely timely, it is accurate and shows people with disabilities in a very positive light. It shows the stereotypes that exists in a lot of people's minds including people with disabilities. It shows us as we are. When I read the script I couldn't believe the detail that Christopher went to in creating these characters. They are a lot like people I know. To tell the truth, I couldn't believe it wasn't written by a physically disabled person.

It is one of the most exciting projects I've ever been involved in. And, as you know, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. This is the real deal. And Christopher Titus is determined to use the show to do for disabled people what Archie Bunker, and " All In The Family " did for black people and other minorities. Namely, to shine a light on us and show us as we really are.

And, above all "Special Unit" is hysterical!

On the other front, I just turned in the second draft of "The Outsiders" in to ABC and I am waiting to hear back.

I would appreciate hearing feedback on what you think of this concept. I know it's hard to give feedback on a show you haven't seen, but I would love to hear how comedy plays a part in your life especially if you are a disabled person or have a disabled person who is close to you.

Folks, this is one of the most exciting, creative times of my life. Thanks for sharing it with me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Success Draws Nearer

You know, being quadriplegic is a pretty big obstacle to deal with on a day-to-day basis. I'm not one to whine too much, but been quadriplegic plus being loaded down with the flu, an ocular migraine, and hearing that I had a Basel cell carcinoma on my face threw me for a loop last week.

All is good now. I'm over the flu, my ocular migraine is gone and I'm not particularly concerned about the Basel cell carcinoma because after it was removed it looks like there's only healthy skin underneath. And, from everything that people tell me they are common.

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of the people who have been writing to me about this blog. It is a labor of love that I am happy to share with people and for my own selfish reasons it documents everything that has been happening over the last few months.

So, what is happening? A lot! My script for ABC/Disney is coming along very well. In fact, I'm in a sort of limbo, the period of time after submitting my script when I am waiting for notes. During that time I am at a loss of things to do. I don't have any graphic design work to do or anything else productive other than reading about what's going on in the industry ... what sold ... Who's buying what ... what company was just acquired by who. That sort of thing.

In the middle of these doldrums, I got a call from a celebrity who had a comedy series that ran for three years on Fox recently and who is looking to develop a new comedy series, and asked me to get involved. It will be a very cool, very edgy comedy. He asked me to keep the details under my hat for a while, but there will be plenty on here about it soon, probably toward the end of December.

Although I've done almost exclusively dramas throughout my career, I much prefer comedy. My sense of humor is what has gotten me over all of the obstacles that I have surmounted. Anybody who knows me knows that I love intelligent humor and I love to make people laugh. A lot of my humor is edgy and some people (some stuck up, narrow minded simpletons) don't find it funny. In fact they find it tasteless. Personally, I can't spend much time around people with no sense of humor. It's like they have a glaring hole in their personality.

The bottom line is, the possibility of being part of a comedy series is invigorating to me. Let me put that another way. YESSSSSS!

Well, I guess it's about time wrap things up. Be looking for my demo reel on my website. I will have it up there soon. It contains three minutes of some of my best dramatic stuff on television. I would love to get your comments on it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cruising (for lack of a better title)

You know, I planned when I started this blog to add to it weekly with my progress. I obviously failed in that attempt. Such is life.

I called this entry Cruising because that's pretty much what I'm doing right now. I finished the first draft of The Outsiders two weeks ago and sent it to ABC. Adam Myman got back to me last Friday with notes and a request for a rewrite on the first twenty pages. I sent that off a few minutes ago. I'm feeling pretty good about it. I know there will be lots more rewrites. As Ernest Hemingway said, " The first draft of anything is shit. "

I am settling in to a pretty decent daily writing habit. I work best with a deadline. Who doesn't? Surprisingly, I don't put it all off until the last minute like I did when I was in high school.

I've been trying to watch three ABC shows in particular; ALIAS, Desperate Housewives, and Lost. Three pretty decent shows. They all have certain things in common with the Outsiders. Lost, for example, has a sci-fi aspect that is an integral part of the show, but it's a show about people, about their relationships, about their interactions. It's not a show about science-fiction. ALIAS is of course a spy show, but what makes it popular are the relationships. Who's marrying who? Who's sleeping with who? Who's about to murder who? Desperate Housewives is about everybody's dirty little secrets, but it wouldn't be popular if we weren't interested in the relationships, (a cast of hotties don't hurt either!).

The Outsiders is a show about an alien from outer space who comes to Earth and tries to fit in. But, it's really about the relationships that develop around him. The people that he comes to care about, and those who care about him. He's a fish out of water trying to make the best of the cards that he has been dealt. That's what I do every day. I'd venture to say that that's what everyone does every day.

His goal is to rebuild the spaceship that he crashed here in so he can fly back into space to rescue his wife and two kids who are rocketing through the universe in an escape pod blasted away from his spaceship during entry into the earth's atmosphere. (I hope that doesn't sound too convoluted,) The government is after him, of course they're after us all. He is befriended by an older woman, and taken advantage of by her son. He bonds with a kid in his building whose parents are away all the time. He even bonds with the government guy who's after him. There are a lot more relationships that evolve over time, but I can't pack all of them into the first episode.

It's interesting how the more I write about a character the more I get to know him and the people who know him. They are like a group of friends that I go back and visit every day. It's often more them telling me the story, rather than me telling them. In fact, when I do try to direct the story it tends to fall flat. I've read and talk to several writers who say that's common.

Common ... and kinda cool!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Climbing Ever Skyward

I've been on overdrive lately and I love it. I've had to turn down graphic design and Web design work because I was too involved in my writing project. Ain't that terrific? This is what I have been working toward for I don't even know how many years. I just know I've been climbing this damn ladder for so frigging long I'm not sure how to get off of it. It just occurred to me the short answer is not to get off of it

I've been going to more and more seminars over at ABC Disney where I get to meet writers and producers of top shows. In addition to finding out all kinds of intimate inside information about how the business works, how to stay employed once I get employed, and how to move up, I'm getting to know the people who do the hiring when the time comes.

Much of my effort goes into making people feel comfortable around me and around my disability. I just except fact that certain people are going to be uncomfortable at first. I certainly would be if I'd never been around a guy who, among other things, can't shake hands. I let people know early on that I'm cool about my disability, I joke about it, and then move on, as if it wasn't there. I've heard it referred to as acknowledging the elephant in the room. As long as I acknowledge that I'm in the chair and don't try to ignore it, I found that people pretty much get past it within the first few minutes. In fact, in certain groups of people, I can get a lot of mileage (no pun intended) out of my disability. I know a million jokes about it and readily invite people to have fun with it.

That isn't to say that I poke fun at myself, or I make jokes about my disability to cover low self-esteem. There are some comedians, fat guys, ugly guys, skinny girls, who spew out a long string of jokes about themselves that in my mind, aren't that funny. I wouldn't engage in any mean spirited banter, and, to tell the truth, it rarely comes up. Most people know where the line is. If they don't they find out right away either from me or from the reaction of other people around.

I hope of not being Pollyanna, maybe I'm still enjoying my honeymoon, but everyone I've met so far at ABC/Disney is very nice. Very accommodating. And talk about a diverse company ... I have never seen such a diverse group of people working together anywhere. My experience is that there is always a predominant group. Some places its white people, some places disabled people, whatever. But the diversity there is the predominant group. And it is pretty much at all levels. It's not white guys at the top who have all the power. From what I've seen, it's pretty well spread out among all the ethnic groups. I'm very impressed.

ABC has also offered to help me as much as possible with the completion of my project as well as the production of the promo for it. In other words they are going to great lengths to insure that my script for the pilot episode of The Outsiders is the absolute best it can be, and the video to promote it will not only be something I'll be very proud of, but will have such a knockout production value it's bound to get me noticed, and more importantly a job.

I hate to blather on about this but I am so thankful and so blessed for being in this position. People say I deserve it, and I guess after all the work I put into it I do, but the bottom line is I'm just thrilled to be here.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Moving Fast

Wow! Winning this scholarship has turned into quite a coup. I've been meeting more and more TV executives, many of whom are interested in looking at my scripts. I'm managing to get some publicity as well. Creative Screenwriting, Script Magazine, Television Week Magazine, a mention on the Academy Of Television Arts And Sciences website,, an on-line Magazine about the entertainment industry called HGEN, and a few places that I'm not aware of yet. It is very cool!

I'm doing my best to keep the ball rolling, to keep my name out there, so that when it comes time to hire new writers for TV shows, the staffing season as its called runs from March to May or June, producers will think of me.

I'm trying to learn from the lessons I experienced when I was a " celebrity " twenty years ago. The main thing I did wrong was not making sure that my name was always out there. This is such a product driven business. Sure you have to be a quality product, either as an actor, writer, director, producer or whatever, but you also have to make sure that your name is out there. If you're selling soda, you better advertise that your product is on the shelf, otherwise nobody will know to buy it, and even if they notice it on the shelf, the name won't click with them so they won't buy it.

Such is the business that I love! I've tried not working, I've tried working in mainstream jobs, I've tried working at home, it's just not fulfilling for Jim Troesh. I've been excited about the entertainment industry for as many years as I can remember. When I first learn to read, I read credits at the end of shows and imagined my name being there with the rest. I even wanted another Troesh to be up there, but it wasn't until my own name was up there that that happened. And, what a satisfying day that was!

I guess the bottom line is to follow your heart. I know it sounds sappy, but it's true! The hard part is tuning out all the negative messages. And, I don't just mean those coming from the outside. If you've got friends or family telling you that you can ' t do what is your heart's desire to do, it's tough. But, if you've got a voice in your head that is also telling you not to do what it's your heart's desire to do it's a nearly impossible thing to get over. I don't know how I got over it myself, but I thank God that I did. I hope there is some comfort in that for people reading this who might be inspired to do what is they really want to do

Well, I think have run at the mouth plenty for this morning. If you're still reading, send a comment, I'd love to hear what you think.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Settling In

What's new? Quite a bit actually. I've been working with my mentor at ABC for a couple of weeks now developing my pilot so that it will promote Jim Troesh in the very best light possible with the intention of getting Jim Troesh lots of writing jobs. There is a part of me that is very concerned because Hollywood has a reputation for killing you with kindness. At the moment, things are going along well, I'm getting work and getting paid. The big crossroad is for me to move over into the arena of mainstream writers, and not disabled writers.

I'm going to assume that I am being considered as a writer, not a quadriplegic writer. However, I have absolutely no objections to using the fact that I'm disabled to get me in the door. The Screen Actors Guild just released a breakdown of the number of disabled actors that are on TV. What a surprise ... we are poorly represented to the point of it being discriminatory. I guess the fact that it became public in the last week or so is a good thing, at least it's out there, this study that can be pointed to. Theoretically, it will encourage, even force producers to consider hiring us. My problem is I've been around two frigging long. I've heard this song and dance before and not a damn thing happened.

But, far be it from me to sound like a goddamn dinosaur still pining for the good old days when I used to work all the time as an actor. It was a terrific back in the 1980's when I always knew I had an upcoming acting job, and I was flying all over the country and getting paid outrageous amounts of money for appearing and saying a few words. I got my comeuppance a few years later when I was forced to take a regular job where I earned in a month what I had previously earned in one day.

I suppose the lesson in that is to insure that when work starts kicking in more that I don't take it for granted and continually promote Jim Troesh and everything that will further Jim Troesh's career. (pardon me for referring to myself as a product, but in this town, I am)

It is my greatest hope that those of you are reading this will be seen my name in other places lots of other places. I'm doing a lot of publicity, getting my name out there wherever I can. If you happen to see something I would appreciate an e-mail because I don't always see everything that's written about me.

Well, I guess that's about enough for today. I really appreciate the fact that you are reading what goes on in my life week to week, or as often as I can get back to prattle on about myself.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

ABC/Disney, day one

So, the ABC/Disney scholarship! Wow! It's Tuesday, I went to the dinner Sunday night which was a terrific networking opportunity and an introduction to the program I'll be in for the next nine months. But, yesterday, the all-day seminar at ABC was awesome! It was an entire day of intensive trainings by top people who make a lot of money training writers because they do an excellent job. They were motivational, inspirational, and educational.

I also met my new mentor, Adam Myman, ABC vice president in charge of current programming. He oversees the productions of shows like ALIAS, BOSTON LEGAL, GEORGE LOPEZ and several other highly rated shows. He selected me to work with because he really liked " The Outsiders. " I have a meeting with him tomorrow Wednesday, to talk about my goals in the industry. Wow! I struggle for twenty years trying to make it as an actor or writer or something in the industry, and I put writing as my solitary focus things start to happen. There's got to be a lesson in that.

On top of that, winning the ABC/Disney Scholarship got my " Without A Trace " spec read by a mid to upper level agent. A day later, I was represented by the Montiero Rose Dravis Agency. Things are finally happening again! I'm glad there is something about me that prevents me from giving up. Something that keeps me pressing on. And that I'm blessed with an absolute belief that some day I will succeed. Could it be that day be coming closer? I've been riled up like this several times in my career and nothing's came of it. I'm doing my best not to get too caught up in what's happening but it's tough. I've been working for this for as long as I can remember.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

The journey continues

OK, it's finally official! I got my official notification from the ABC/Disney Scholarship. Such validation I have not felt in a long time, a very long time. The first sentence read your proposal for a TV series titled " The Outsiders " shows a tremendous creative potential. Probably that's a just another piece of Hollywood fluff, but it sure made my day.
Narrowing my focus to writing rather than trying to be an actor/writer is probably one of the better decisions of my life. Not that the idea of acting is ever off my mind, my focus is on writing. I'm glad that God gave me more than one gift. I honestly believe that by the way. I just feel blessed that I've been able to follow my dream for these many years. A lot of people are never able to do that. My dad, who spent thirty years working at the Post Office when he actually wanted to be a cop, told me one day, " Don't spend your life doing something you hate. "
That's the advice I would offer to anyone. We're not here for very long, sixty, seventy, maybe ninety years, that's not much. It's not long. The older I get the more realize how short of a time it actually is. The other piece of advice I have always offered to people is a quotation I heard from Ross Perot years ago, long before he ever ran for president. I saw him in an interview on Sixty Minutes. He said " Never, never never never give up! " In retrospect, he didn't exactly hold up to that quote during his presidential campaign. Nevertheless, I took his advice to heart and made that my motto. In other words, if you hang around long enough, and you don't die, something good is bound to happen.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Basking in the Afterglow

OK, so I've had a couple weeks to get used to this business of being a winner in the ABC/Disney scholarship and I have to say it feels pretty damn good still! The actual announcement and press conference will take place in the end of July, so I have until then to get my ducks in row, so to speak. I will get roughly a week, two weeks at the most of publicity. I need to develop a strategy to strike while the iron is hot. Thank God I have experience in this business, because it is so easy to get caught up in the excitement and not be ready. That's happened to me more times than I can count. If only I had it to do over again ... oh well, such is life.
So, my days now are taken up with finishing up a few websites and starting yet another spec script. This time, I'm writing a spec for Desperate Housewives. Up until now, I've almost always written procedurals, cop dramas. I'm trying to create a diverse writing portfolio that includes a procedural, a one CAMERA sitcom, a three CAMERA sitcom, a character based show, and a medical show. Of course, I have my screenplays for feature films, but generally I won't be showing them to the same people I'm showing TV scripts to.
Such a business! It will pay off handsomely when I succeed but at the moment the task of writing all those scripts is a bit daunting. I love to write though so I really don't mind.
In addition to the ABC/Disney scholarship, there is an ABC/Disney fellowship, and the CBS mentorship that I'm still submitted for. I say prayers all the time about winning one or the other of them in addition to what I've already won. I'm not a greedy bastard, I just know how beneficial winning one of these prestigious competitions can be to my career. What a wonderful place Dreamland is!
At this point, I can't actually believe that anyone with the possible exception of my mother would still be reading this. The idea of a blog is so bizarre. Who the hell wants to read my stream of consciousness thoughts? I'm writing this using voice recognition software which makes it a whole lot easier for a guy who spent the last twenty or more years typing with a mouth stick. I've got the crooked teeth to prove it!
Well, back to Desperate Housewives. I've got an actual produced script that I need to read, and episodes to watch on tape. It's a pretty good show. I met several of the people on it including the producer Marc Cherry. Who knows? This is a crazy business! But I frigging love it! (frigging, i.e. well, my mother's probably reading this so I won't write the way I usually speak. )
That's it for now. Tune in next time; same blog time, same blog channel!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

It Frigging Happened!

So it happened! I came home from the store and there was a message from Gloria at the Media Access Office. I return the call, and with a nervous voice, Gloria says, " You won! " " Oh, my God! "
Yes, I won the ABC/Disney scholarship! I'm still floating!
The prestigious scholarship not only validates twenty or more years of struggling to make it again, it gives me the opportunity to get an agent as well as getting recognition from the industry and the ability to get a network pitch meeting (nearly impossible for person in my position as a relatively " new " screenwriter) The scholarship will pay me to complete the script for the pilot episode of a TV series titled " The Outsiders. " in addition, it buys me a computer, and provides funding for me to produce a two-minute commercial for the TV series.
What's the series about?
The Outsiders is about an alien from outer space who crashed on Earth fifteen years ago. He became world-renowned, his face familiar to nearly everyone on earth. His name is Alan Ray and he is green in scaly. His fame granted him money , women, and power. Now that fifteen years have passed since the crash landed here the glamour and interest has worn off. Nobody cares anymore and Alan can't get a job at any thing except a Star Trek convention.
So, he hits the streets of and tries to make it on his own. He doesn't have any particular earth skills so tries for a job at a fast-food joint. The manager is very excited to meet Alan, even gets his autograph, but when Allen asks for a job, the manager turned him down flat saying that nobody would want to buy food from a green scaly guy. Reality hits Alan square in the face.
He tries for a job as a receptionist, but because he has only three fingers and all three have suction cups at the hands, he can't type. On his planet he was considered buff, a strong man, but here on earth he is as weak as a kitten. He can't get a job anywhere.
He's forced into the streets where he meets a variety of society's outsiders; recovering alcoholic/addicts, homeless people, veterans. The one thing all of society's outsiders have in common is that they are accepting and in fact inclusive of each other.
The series follows Alan and a handful of other characters through Allen's journey of discovery.
Anyway, congratulations to me!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The posting begins

 And, so it begins. To get up to speed, I'm currently waiting to see if one of my two script submissions is chosen for the ABC/DISNEY Scholarship. Both proposals, "The Outsider" and "A World of Their Own" have made it into the semi-finals. I'm supposed to hear this month. On the other front, I submitted my Without A Trace spec "Teardrop" to the CBS Mentorship program, after guidance and encouragement by CBS VP of Current Programming, Christopher Davidson.

In addition, I sold two screenplays "Harlem" and "In Memory of Me" to Warning Film. With luck both films will be out in about a year.

As far as acting, I'm currently working out in an improv workshop run by Andy Goldberg, founder of "Off The Wall." There, I get to work with people who are better than me, and I get to laugh so hard I cry.